Golan Heights & Druze Village & Golan Winery

Trip Start Nov 10, 2011
Trip End Dec 03, 2011

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Flag of Syria  , Quneitra,
Monday, November 21, 2011

I may have to make a visit to Kinkos and have our Israel map reduced and copied so I can scan it into the blog.  We truly did see most of the country as is indicated by the highlighting our guide, David, did for us.  What amazed most of us in the tour group was the diverse terrain of Israel.  We all envisioned the country as being desert.  Wow!  Were we wrong.  The terrain is almost as diverse as the USA, only it is done in such a small country.  Desert, yes, but hills and mountains, valleys, waterfalls in the most unlikely places, and farms that are unbelievable.  The growing season must last most of the year -- the winter months being prime because the summers are too hot.  We saw fields and orchards covered with what appeared to be netting -- to create greenhouses.  The veggies and fruits we saw in the markets would make any American farmer envious.  Everything was FRESH.  I'm not sure Jordanians or Israelis understand the concept of processed food.  We, certainly, never saw any noticeably obese people, except tourists.

The Golan Heights

We've all heard about this area in the news, usually when someone is shooting at someone else.  This region has a long history of conflict.  The history is long, the details are many, so rather than trying to remember all that I learned and writing all of it, I am going to "cheat" and add a link to the always "trustworthy" (I say that with some sarcasm) Wikipedia.   Although the recording we listened to at one of the view points overlooking the area sounded very Pollyannaish, the United Nations keeps the peace with these outposts.

Druze Village

This is a beautiful area of hills and fertile farmland.  While in the Golan Heights, we enjoyed a home hosted lunch in a Druze home. 

Looking at the picture of the scene outside the Druze home, if you look closely, in the distance you can see the border fence.  That is Syria on the other side.  Our hostess went many, many years without seeing her Syrian relatives after Israel took control of the Golan Heights and built the fence. Also note the cisterns on the roofs of the buildings -- Water is such a priceless resource in the Middle East, that homes have cisterns on the roofs.  Potable water, in some areas, is delivered once a week and placed in the holding tanks (black) and connected to the water system inside the house.

Our hostess did not speak English.  David, our guide, translated as she told us her story.  She was married at 14, or was it 16, with little education.  Around the room are pictures of her family, many are wedding pictures.  In the picture of her and her husband, she looks very unhappy.  I asked David about that and, darn, he asked her -- not my intent.  But, she did tell him/us she was very shy that day.  Imagine being a 16 year old girl who comes from a conservative family, who knows very little about her husband because it was arranged, and she is thinking about the wedding night.  She was probably more terrified than shy!

On the way to the Golan Heights Winery, we stopped at a grocery store (supermarket) for those who wanted to pick up something for dinner as our dinner that evening was on our own.  As we had noted throughout our time in Israel, the Army has a constant presence.  The soldiers are seen in uniform, carrying their M-16 rifles -- into the grocery store.  We asked one soldier if he minded if we took his picture.  He spoke little English, but behind us was another soldier who said, with a grin and in perfect American English, "Only if you block out the faces!"  Gil is from Phoenix, has family in Israel whom he visited every year while growing up, and decided to join the Israeli Army because, "Without an Army there is no Israel."  He is 22, a little older than most of the soldiers so his commitment is only for two years, whereas native Israeli men must serve three years.

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